The Locker Room

June 2, 2004

Idle speculation based on Paul's last post

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:59 PM

So Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is financing the SpaceShipOne project. Hoo boy. Can you imagine how the idea of Microsoft in space is going to affect the paranoiacs who're already suspicious of Microsoft and space exploration? It might be a good thing to invest in Reynolds Wrap before the run on aluminum foil begins.

(See one modeled by a Raleigh peace protester, sixth photo down.)

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News flash: junk food contributes to obesity

Posted by Donna Martinez at 3:43 PM

"We know people are eating a lot of junk food, but to have almost one-third of Americans' calories coming from those categories is a shocker. It's no wonder there's an obesity epidemic in this country," Block said in a statement.

So said Gladys Block, a professor of epidemiology and public health nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley, in the June issue of the Journal of Food Chemistry and Analysis, according to this story. Why it took a study to figure this out is unclear.

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Re: Cutting the Federal Budget

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:06 PM

George, I noticed that one fed-supported agency that John Miller's budget cutters proposed chopping was NASA. The upcoming sub-orbital trip of SpaceShipOne, planned for June 21, may be the project that proves private enterprise will succeed in space travel.

"Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epoch flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable," said Burt Rutan, an aviation technologist.

"Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel," Rutan added.

In a press statement last December, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said: "SpaceShipOne is a tangible example of continuing humankind's efforts to travel into space, effectively demonstrating that private resources can make a big difference in this field of discovery and invention."

Allen is financing the project. Pretty cool.

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Hey Gang, I've Got a Great Idea!

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:54 PM

Let's borrow more money, to be repaid with interest without taxpayers' permission, to finance the government purchase of more uninhabited land, in order to make it useless for future generations!

Just another great idea proposed by one of your state representatives! How do we keep coming up with these gems?

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Did Anybody Complain?

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:32 PM

Gee, it's getting to the point where a guy (or gal) can't even get dunked in a public river any more.

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The location of Lake Wobegon. . .

Posted by John Hood at 10:59 AM

. . . Has now been pinpointed. It’s in New Bern, where apparently every school is “of excellence” or “of distinction.”

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Cutting the federal budget

Posted by George Leef at 10:36 AM

It's always a good time to talk about axing federal programs that would never have been created if we still lived under the Constitution of the Founders, but the prospect of a $500 billion deficit should really get Americans concentrating on it. In his NRO column today, John Miller talks to two budget slicers who propose hundreds of billions in cuts.

Worthwhile reading!

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A novel without verbs? Of course it's French

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:10 AM

Not only have the French raised inaction to an art form, but at the Sorbonne University they even held a public funeral for the verb.

"The verb is like a weed in a field of flowers," said the author, who wrote under a pseudonym. "You have to get rid of it to allow the flowers to grow and flourish. Take away the verbs and the language speaks for itself."

Let's test that. "The verb like a weed in a field of flowers. You rid of it the flowers. The verbs and the language for itself." Oo la la! C'est magnifique!

His 233-page novel is described as full of "flowery prose, but not a lot of action." Insert jokes at will.

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Raleigh downtown to get chandeliers, no word yet on the champagne fountains

Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:15 AM

What do you do when you are spending someone else's money? If you are a city official redesigning your downtown, you consider adding chandeliers - yes, chandeliers - along the road. Oh, and you also make the road as narrow as possible to force the good people of your town to have to parallel park.

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Sowell on "the working poor"

Posted by George Leef at 09:12 AM

Thomas Sowell writes one of his typically excellent columns on what will probably become a campaign issue -- the "working poor." You can read it here.

I would only add a bit to Sowell's debunking of this phony issue. The notion that labor unions would make a big difference for the working poor is part of leftist mythology. In response to the nutty idea that we could help the working poor by making it easier to form labor unions, Sowell observes that it's already quite easy to form unions. But even if we made it easier still (Big Labor has been pushing legislation to allow for unionization just on the basis of signed cards rather than a secret ballot), union bosses have no magic wand to make wage and benefit increases appear out of thin air. Where unions do manage to drive compenstion above market levels (at least for those who keep their jobs) is in circumstances where the workers have a high degree of skill and investors have put in a lot of highly specific assets. The airlines are a good example. On the other hand, most of the working poor are employed in small, highly competitive businesses where costs have to be pared to the bone if the firm is to survive. (Think of the food service industry, for instance.) Forcing low-wage workers to pay dues for union representation won't make them better off.

Elsewhere, Sowell has written, "Before one can be a partisan of the poor, one must first be a partisan of the truth." The truth is that collective bargaining can do little or nothing to increase wages for workers under competitive conditions.

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Restraint and liberty

Posted by John Hood at 09:05 AM

The state senate took a step Tuesday towards requiring North Carolina parents to install booster seats in their cars for children up to eight-years old. Some Republicans, according to the AP, “voted against the bill, speaking out primarily on libertarian and economic grounds”:

"Government is more and more involved in people's everyday lives telling them how to look after their children, telling them minute by minute what they're supposed to do," said Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. That bill does just that, he said.

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North to South Dakota

Posted by John Hood at 08:54 AM

Democrats gained a seat yesterday in the U.S. House in a special election to fill the seat of Republican Bill Janklow, the former South Dakota governor who accidently killed someone by running a red light. The race was fairly close, and will be replayed in the fall between the now-incumbent, Democrat Stephanie Herseth, and a Republican state legislator, Larry Diedrich.

As usual, the Washington types are trying to spin the result. A harbinger of things to come? An exceptional case?

Who knows?

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Pictures from Iraq are harming an institution

Posted by John Hood at 08:41 AM

The latest Gallup survey of public attitudes about major American institutions is out, and the results are instructive. There’s good news and bad in the poll, from my perspective, but the headline most are taking away from it is that “despite” the prisoner-abuse scandal in Iraq and questions about military planning and objectives, the public still offers overwhelming confidence in its armed forces at around 75 percent. This is far higher than public confidence in other institutions.

For example, the media. Only 30 percent of Americans have confidence in it, the same as for the U.S. Congress. I’m not sure which should be insulted by that.

My guess is that the media’s bad-news fixation, built-in to some extent but also accentuated by recent trends, is coming back to bite them in Iraq. When you look more closely at declining public optimism about the campaign in Iraq (not in this poll but others) you find that the increase is likely due to hawkish Americans becoming less convinced that the U.S. will fight to win there, rather than due to a decrease in support for the campaign itself.

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Meaningless Reform

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:35 AM

Robert J. Samuelson argues today in the Washington Post that "reform" doesn't mean anything anymore. He says the term is little more than a tag used in political fights, in which the opponent of the desirable "reform" is tagged as an "obstructionist."

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"Let's see how long SBC or Verizon lasts against the Baptists"

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 08:10 AM

You'll have to read through a slightly techie take on a disruptive technology that could remake the communication industry to understand that quote, but if you do you'll have another concrete example of how technology actually changes our world. (Notice that politicians and their pet projects are not in the story.)

The abridged version: For $70 you can buy more network switching power than could be had for thousands just a few years ago.

And let me add if the Lutherans find a way to add debugging to a potluck, watch out for them too.

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